*says he’s been fair to Ndigbo
*as Igbo leaders take IPOB, marginalisation talks to Aso Rock
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday promised to embark on a tour of Southeast states soon, even as he assured people of the region that he was paying utmost attention to completing the 2nd Niger Bridge, roads, coastal rail and other critical infrastructure beneficial to them.
He made the promises at the Aso Rock Villa when he met with Southeast governors, Ministers and President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, led by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
The Ministers that attended the parley were Geoffrey Onyeama; Chris Ngige; Ogbonnaya Onu; and Okechukwu Enelamah. There were also Igbo representatives from the National Assembly.
The President assured them that 2nd Niger Bridge, the East-West Road and the Coastal rail project were receiving utmost attention from his administration, and that they would be financed with counterpart funding from the Chinese government.
“I know the Chinese are very competent in handling such projects and we will ensure that we get the money for the projects to take off.
“I thank you for articulating your demands and I want to assure that we are doing our best for the country. If we can stop people from stealing, then there will be more resources to put into projects that will create employment for Nigerians,’’ the President said.
Responding to allegations of under-representation of Igbos in his government, the President said: “I gave south-east four substantive ministers in the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Investment, Science and Technology and Labour.
“Seven states in the North got Ministers of State and of the two Ministries headed by your sons, I cannot take any decision on foreign policy and investments without their input.
“I want to assure you that I came into government with a clear conscience and I will also leave with a clear conscience,’’ he said.
The Ohaneze leader had while articulating the demands of the Southeast zone to the President, highlighted the issue of state creation, restructuring, federal projects in the South East, especially Enugu-Onitsha road, Enugu-Port Harcourt road and Aba-Ikot-Ekpene road, among others.
Nwodo also demanded urgent presidential interventions on the Enugu Airport, reticulation of the gas-pipelines in the South East and the standard gauge plan for railway construction.
Commending the President’s remarkable achievements on security and the fight against corruption, Nwodo declared: “we are ready to work with you. We are determined to work with you. We know you are a decisive leader and we know God will continue to give you the wisdom to govern Nigeria.’’
Speaking to State House correspondents afterwards, Nwodo said there was no reason for him to doubt the promises made by Buhari “because this is the first time I have had this interaction with him. I have the feeling that he spoke to us very frankly”.
Asked if the issue of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) came up during the meeting, he replied: “We came here for the issues of developments in our place. We talked about IPOB as a symptomatic consequence of the continuous marginalization of the Southeast over a long period of time.
“Understandably, our children are restive and we want to make sure that the Federal Government is responsive to the issues that have accumulated in the context of these agitations.
Nwodo added that “we did talk about the issue of devolution of powers, the Constitution, the paucity of the states and local governments in our place and the President has asked that he be given time to look at these more holistically”.
Governor Umahi had during the discussions told Buhari that “you have no hatred for any state. You have treated all states with equality. What one state gets in the North, the other gets in the South”, referring to budget support facility and stabilisation fund recently released to states.